Coping with global warming, rising mental issues

Health Problems, Global Warming Linked, Per Study

World Mental Health Day: Climate change responsible for depression, anxiety

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a Special Report on the effect of the world warming 1.5°C or more above pre-industrial levels.

Worldwide, it is estimated that one in five adolescents experience mental health challenges, though most remain under-diagnosed and untreated.

According to the L.A. Times, the team led by MIT data scientist Nick Obradovich asked nearly two million people this question between 2002 and 2012: "Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?" Apparently, it is. The new study says that climate change is not only harmful for birds and animals, water sources, our health problems, it also may influence on our mental processes. "We had this nice decade's worth of information about how environmental conditions related to the way people reported their mental health status", Obradovich said. They called for more studies in the "regions with less-temperate climates, insufficient resources, and a greater reliance on ecological systems" and predicted that these regions may have more "severe effects of climate change on mental health". "It is time to act on mental health", he said in a message marking World Mental Health Day that falls on October 10. The odds of reporting mental health problems were 2 percentage points higher in extremely rainy months with more than 25 days of precipitation than they were in months with no precipitation at all.

"Short-term exposure to more extreme weather, multiyear warming, and tropical cyclone exposure each associate with worsened mental health", MIT researchers found.

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Finally, the team examined mental health reports from people affected by Hurricane Katrina and compared them to reports from people in comparable-sized places that had not been affected by the catastrophic hurricane. The researchers found that women and people in the low-income demographic are more apt to develop mental health issues because of climate change, for example.

Obradovich also acknowledges the elephant in the room, i.e., that this data raises other questions, like why don't individuals living in warmer places have worse mental health than those who live in colder locales?

Between 2002 and 2012, almost 2 million participants were asked this question: "Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, for how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?"

Other studies have found a connection between suicide rates and temperature. Obradovich, who noted that some people near the coast may be feeling anxiety about the possibility of hurricane damage to their homes, agreed: "There could be additional effects of worry about climate change that we're not able to capture in this study".

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